Best MP3 players with FLAC

If you're looking for a portable MP3 player with FLAC capability, here are five of the best on the market.

Just like canned beer, MP3s are cheap, convenient, and sold just about everywhere, but the quality doesn't hold up well under scrutiny. If you want to hear every detail in your music -- every breath, every strum, every rattle -- then a lossless format such as FLAC is the way to go.

The Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) is capable of reducing the size of uncompressed audio sources by 40 percent to 50 percent without any degradation in sound quality. You can find free programs for Mac, Windows, and Linux that will play and rip FLAC files, but finding a FLAC-compatible MP3 player isn't quite so easy.

It's possible that you already own a FLAC-compatible audio player and don't realize it -- check your manufacturer's support page for firmware updates that could enable FLAC and provide other improvements. If you own an older iPod, the open-source Rockbox firmware offers FLAC audio playback, custom EQ, games, and tons of little surprises. Meanwhile if you own an iPod Touch or an iPhone, there are several apps available from the App Store that will let you play and upload FLAC files. Read our FLAC FAQ here.


Samsung Galaxy Player 4.2
When it comes to competing with Apple's iPod Touch media player, the Galaxy Player 4.2 is Samsung's best effort yet, but it's still playing catch-up. Read the full review.


SanDisk Sansa Clip Zip
SanDisk's tongue-twister of an MP3 player is a stupefying value and its practical clip-on design is perfect for the gym. Read the full review.


Iriver P7
The Iriver P7 is like a beautifully crafted concept car with a frustrating lack of horsepower, but the price is compelling. Read the full review.


Iriver LPlayer
The Iriver LPlayer is a pint-size version of the well-received Clix. You get most of the same features in a smaller package offered at a pared-down price point. Read the full review.


Sony Walkman F800
While we haven't reviewed the Sony Walkman F800, the player does pack in the features, with FLAC playback among the highlights. Read the full review.


Compare these audio players head-to-head.
Read the full CNET Review

SanDisk Sansa Clip Zip (black, 8GB)

The Bottom Line: SanDisk's tongue-twister of an MP3 player is a stupefying value and its practical clip-on design is perfect for the gym. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Iriver P7 (16GB, silver)

The Bottom Line: The Iriver P7 is like a beautifully crafted concept car with a frustrating lack of horsepower, but the price is compelling. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Samsung Galaxy Player 4.2 (black)

The Bottom Line: When it comes to competing with Apple's iPod Touch media player, the Galaxy Player 4.2 is Samsung's best effort yet, but it's still playing catch-up. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

iRiver LPlayer (8GB, black)

The Bottom Line: The Iriver LPlayer is a pint-size version of the well-received Clix. You get most of the same features in a smaller package offered at a pared-down price point. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Sony Walkman F800 (16GB)

Sony revives its Walkman line with the F800 and E470, but for the price you might as well buy a music-capable Android phone. / Read full review

About the author

Ty Pendlebury reviews televisions in CNET's New York office. He originally hails from CNET Australia. Ty's interests include gaming, indie music, hi-fi, streaming media, movies, literature, and cycling.

Donald Bell has spent more than five years as a CNET senior editor, reviewing everything from MP3 players to the first three generations of the Apple iPad. He currently devotes his time to producing How To content for CNET, as well as weekly episodes of CNET's Top 5 video series.

 

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